It’s almost that time of the year when everyone will begin thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I have never been one to do this much before, noting the tendency of many people to fail at keeping up with their resolutions.
Why is it that we fail to keep up with all the good intentions we set ourselves? There are probably many reasons but, as I think about it, the two reasons that immediately spring to mind are the following -
- People set themselves unrealistic goals. As an example, someone might aim to lose 5 kilograms a month, whereas a more realistic goal might be to aim to weigh less at the end of each month than you were at the beginning of it. Some say that goals need to be specific, but I think sometimes it is good to be less rigid. This is still something that is measurable.
- Generally good habits are harder to maintain than bad habits - if you think about it, I think it’s easier to overeat than to eat moderately; it’s easier to not exercise than to exercise regularly; it’s easier to not do the housework than to do it, and so on. It seems that not doing something that is good for you tends to be easier than actually doing it.
So with these two thoughts in mind, I thought I would try to plan some resolutions for my writing in 2013.
With respect to the first point above, it would probably be unrealistic for me to say that I want to be a successful, well-known author by the end of 2013. At this stage I have only just released my first novel as a paperback, the E-book is about to be released and the sequel companion volume is only about a third of the way through its first draft. It might be more realistic to say that my New Year’s resolutions for writing include things such as becoming better at my craft, learning more about marketing and promotion, and increasing my online presence.
These three goals are very broad but they could be further broken down into smaller, more specific goals. To become better at my craft I could try to write more regularly and block in regular writing time on my calendar or in my diary. I could resolve to do several short-term courses by the end of the year. I could aim to write a chapter a month. To learn more about marketing and promotion I could set aside some reading time to learn about these things. I could research and follow several marketing focussed blogs over the course of the year to see what they have to teach me. This would also link closely with smaller goals around increasing my online presence. If I weren’t already using such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and so on, I would choose one at a time to become familiar with.
The point is to make small, achievable goals along the way as stepping-stones to the big picture goal of becoming a well-known author. If you still like the idea of dreaming the big picture, maybe change the wording of your resolution so that the aim is not so much ‘to be a well-known author by the end of 2013’, but ‘to be a better known author than I am now by the end of 2013.’ The latter is an achievable, measurable goal, just as much as the former, but the former is unrealistic.
With reference to the second point above, the fact that I want to set resolutions for my writing suggests that there are certain habits of writing that I deem to be good for me and my development as a writer - habits that I don’t yet have but desire to have, and they will require work and discipline to continue in them. It will be easier not to do them than to do them.
With this in mind I will try to be prepared for the times when I don’t want to do what I have resolved to do, by planning to measure my goals in some way and maybe setting up a system of rewards for my successes as motivation. Perhaps it would work well to write my goals out and put them in a prominent place as a prompt with a reward next to each one - such as buying myself the book I badly want if I achieve a month worth of small goals. Maybe I could also give my list to a close friend whom I can trust to keep me accountable to what I have planned.
My next step is to actually plan some goals and apply the above principles to them. If I can work out a plan before the New Year I will share it here on the blog. In the meantime, if any other writers have some writing resolutions and tips for keeping them, please share them here with other readers.